It’s not like riding a bike: second divorce complications

second divorceSome experiences are like riding a bike: if you have done it once, chances are you will be proficient at it the second time around. Unfortunately, that rule does not apply to second divorces. Just because you have been through one does not make the subsequent splits easier. My experience tells me that second and third divorces can be even more complex than the first one.

Why? Here is my formula that explains the difficulties with multiple divorces. More kids + more money + more property = complexity!

Let’s tackle relationship issues first.

Every subsequent marriage adds more people to the picture, and untangling it becomes increasingly more complicated. It’s not just about you and your spouse any more: many families have to navigate the web of step-siblings, step-parents, step-cousins and step-grandparents. How do you preserve the relationships? Who has a right to stay in contact?

Then, there are property issues.

Most people believe that having a prenuptial agreement guarantees a clean split. Unfortunately, that is far from reality. Even the best agreements aren’t created with a crystal ball, and family situations can be dynamic and complex.

The “cleanest” scenario is one where separate assets were kept in each spouse’s name, only community assets were used during the marriage, and the couple had a good prenup that addressed everything from property division to children’s arrangements. Real life situations are rarely this clear-cut, especially for couples that have lived together for many years.

What do you need to know when facing a second divorce?

First of all, work with a trusted attorney and financial planner. You should consider the impact of this divorce on your prior financial commitments and cash flows. Alimony, custody, child support – make a complete list and talk to professionals who can help you foresee consequences of decisions you make during this divorce. The complexities of untangling bank accounts, investments, real estate, and pensions mean that this is not the time for a DIY experiment.

Next, remember that a second of third divorce can benefit from using a collaborative approach, because it allows you more privacy and control over the outcomes of the separation.

Lastly, remember to create and update your wills and trusts! Every time your family and financial circumstances change, your estate planning documents should reflect it.

If you are in the process of a second divorce, reach out to the Brazos Valley Collaborative Divorce Alliance. We have helped many clients in your situation, and can connect you with the right professionals to support you and your family through the process.

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